When it comes to underage drinking, New Jersey has enacted a zero-tolerance policy. While adults must have their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at 0.08%, even 0.01% is sufficient to charge a minor. A BAC limit of 0.01% may be equivalent to a single drink for some people. Possession of alcohol by minors can also be punished by law. This blog post will discuss exceptions to these laws, penalties for breaking New Jersey’s DWI laws, and the negative future consequences of a DUI conviction beyond those directly imposed by a court. If an underage driver in your family is accused of a DUI, don’t wait and call an experienced Bergen County, New Jersey DUI lawyer today.
Exceptions to New Jersey’s Tough DUI Laws
Before we get to the legal penalties for underage drunk driving, it will be useful to review some exceptions.
Although the legal drinking age in New Jersey is 21, there are exceptions. For instance, it may deemed legally acceptable if the minor is on private premises, that do not sell alcohol, and their legal guardian agrees. Other exceptions include consuming alcohol for medical, religious, or educational purposes.
Penalties for a New Jersey Underage DUI
Just like the blood alcohol concentration is very different for adults and minors, so too are the penalties. Typically the difference between DUI laws for adults and minors is found in the harsher limitations minors face for actions that are not penalized for adults, combined with the lesser (as compared to adults) penalties for underage violations of DUI law. Although for the most part, penalties for underage drinking and driving are less severe, but in one regard, they are comparably strict.
The following examples illustrate the differences between underage and adult penalties. Keep in mind as you read that a first offense for an adult may entail 30 days in jail, fines in the hundreds of dollars, and license suspension.
Minors younger than 21 who keep alcohol, even if they never consume it, face a six-month loss of driving privileges. Underage drivers with a BAC between 0.01% and 0.07% may be punished with 30 to 90 days of license suspension as well as mandatory community service and cooperation with the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center.
Once a minor’s BAC reaches or exceeds the adult limit of 0.08%, however, there cease to be differences between adult and underage alcohol laws. With a BAC at 0.08%, underage drivers can receive the same penalties as adults.
Repercussions of an Underage DUI Beyond the Legal
Just like adults, underage drivers also face fallout beyond the strictly legal after conviction for a DUI.
Prospective college students may find themselves barred from admittance to their university of choice. There may also be long-reaching consequences if the minor wants to pursue a professional career that requires licensing, like law or nursing. Both of these demand that students with DUIs complete additional requirements if they have received a DUI, and that’s assuming the program accepts students with DUIs to begin with.
If the above is overcome, a minor with a DUI may find it harder to qualify for financial aid. And if the minor was living in university housing, they may find themselves homeless should the campus see a DUI as a violation of housing rules.